A Tense Present Tense

I am working on an ending to that comparison piece that looks at the evolution of Euripides’ Hippolytus to Seneca’s Phaedra,to Racine’s Phèdre.

Wait. Wait, weren’t you working on that, like, weeks ago, D?

Yeah, well, piss off. Our Italian artistic associate showed me the Italian way to flick someone off with a brush of the hand off the chin. She did it so nonchalantly, I thought she was trying to catch a stray hair that was tickling her face. That is what I am doing to you. Right now. As I type this . . . don’t try to figure out the mechanics of it . . .

I haven’t finished it yet because I haven’t had time! We always knew January was going to be bad. And it is going to be. We’re celebrating our 100-year-old theater (the most beautiful theater in the United States) on the 9th, followed by the opening of Phèdre and then three weeks of First Look (our new works festival. I’ll write more about the amazing line up we’ve got going later). I’ve told Rachel I am kissing her goodbye the day after our anniversary (New Years) until Valentines Day.

But I don’t think we realized January was going to smack us in the face so early into December. The deadlines for the centennial are overwhelming the publications department while the new works festival is making unplanned-for-demands of the non-existent literary department. And, of course, marketing still hasn’t hired a copywriter. It’s been 4 months . . . I’ve never been so scared of a week of work as I am about this week coming up. Luckily, over the summer we moved down to an office with its own door. And that door is going to be closed until the Holiday Party on Friday (oh, did I mention that I’m helping get that whole thing together too? The joys of non-profit theater! what. the. crap).

Why are you writing on your blog then, D? Why aren’t you getting ahead on either work or sleep or something?

Well, I was working on that comparison piece, but then I realized I didn’t know what to do when writing about the fictional lives of characters in a work that no longer exists (namely Hippolytus Veiled), and the conundrum was too good to not write about. Racine wrote (past tense) Phèdre. But in Phèdre, the unfortunate queen swoons and loves and lies and dies, all in the present tense because it is always happening. It is happening right now, as I write this (and flick you off Italian style). But what if the fictional action to which I am referring happens/ed in a piece of work that no longer exists . . . is it still happening? Even though no one can see that it is happening? What was the conclusion of that tree falling in the forest philosophical riddle?

Is this the kind of thing you think about at work, D?

Well, yeah, sometimes. We have debates over prepositions too . . . and get angry about people who think lead is the past tense of lead (it’s “led,” people!). I mean, I do other stuff too. Like, a lot of other stuff.

But you do this stuff too, right?

. . . Yes.

Would that have anything to do with you being behind.

. . . No.

Really?

Fftttppt.

What was that?

I was doing that chin thing to you.

Mature.

Look, some people take smoke breaks. We take nerd breaks, when we geek out over the intricacies of the English language.

You wrote a play this weekend, didn’t you?

. . . Maybe

And that’s why you’re writing in dialogue right now, isn’t it?

. . . Maybe.

I hate it when you write plays.

Fftttppt.

Sigh.

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